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When I Give, I Give Myself

a series of talks by Vessantara

'When I Give, I Give Myself, an online retreat led by Vessantara from Adhisthana in 2020.

The retreat’s title is a line by Walt Whitman that Sangharakshita used to quote with approval, relating it to practising the Dharma. It sums up the attitude of the bodhisattva, expressed in the culminating verse of the Sevenfold Puja: Transference of Merits and Self-Surrender.

This 6 day retreat emphasises meditation, moving from the fundamental development of bodhicitta to explore Dana Paramita. Meditations and ritual practices will encourage and train us to open our hearts, give ourselves more to life, and find greater freedom.

The retreat was loosely based on the material in Sangharakshita’s lecture The Significance of Offerings and Self-Sacrifice from his Creative Symbols of the Tantric Path. As well as continuing to explore tonglen (giving and receiving practice), this retreat also looked at the principles behind meditations and rituals that focus on generosity and giving ourselves. These include making offerings on different levels, the Mandala Offering, and the Chod practices. Vessantara focused on the understandings and principles that underlie these practices.

Vessantara's meditation teaching addresses issues that can affect our outer giving, such as guilt, neglecting oneself, and other ‘near enemies’ of skilful generosity. Clarifying these areas will allow us to be generous in ways that are frictionless and appropriate for us, and help us to be of maximum benefit to others.